Do I need to keep the individual filaments in the fiber optic cable?
That depends. If you're asking if you need to keep the filaments in the cable to transmit light, then the answer is: no.
Leaving the fibers in the cable is done more to protect and manage the filaments. This is done when the filaments travel longer distances. This is seen in a star ceiling installation where you’ll cut back the jacket from both ends to spread the filaments over the panel, and a few inches to blend on the illuminator end.
You can learn more about star ceiling installations in our Star Ceiling Installation Guide.